Friday, December 17, 2010

U.S.A. Endorses UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Three years after the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly, all four countries who initially voted against it have now reversed their positions. President Barack Obama has just announced his decision, which comes after months of consultations and follows close on the heels of Canada's endorsement of the Declaration on November 12. Obama notably stated that "what matters far more than words, what matters far more than any resolution or declaration, are actions to match those words."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Collaborating with the Medical Research Council in South Africa

In collaboration with the Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) unit of the Medical Research Council, Natural Justice facilitated a two-day workshop on “Legislative requirements for conducting research on medicinal plants and traditional medical knowledge with special reference to the South African situation”. The workshop was facilitated by Laureen Manuel and Kabir Bavikatte with support from Sylva Batshi and Sabine Zajderman.
 
The participants of the workshop consisted mainly of researchers from IKS unit, and a few representatives of the South African Department of Science and Technology (DST). The workshop centred on the international and domestic law and policy on Access and Benefit Sharing, specifically the Convention on Biological Diversity, Nagoya Protocol, National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, and Bioprospecting, Access and Benefit Sharing Regulations. The workshop also focused on the importance of community protocols and their role in securing the free, prior and informed consent of communities.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Climate Change Summit in Cancun Surpasses Low Expectations

Credit: IISD/Earth Negotiations Bulletin
The 16th Conference of the Parties (COP16) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) took place from November 29-December 11 in Cancun, Mexico. The Conference was dogged by low expectations after a disastrous COP15 in Copenhagen last year and for some reason, it seems to have motivated the delegates to accomplish more.

On December 6, Natural Justice Associate Peter Wood wrote an article entitled "REDD+: Reducing the Risk". At that point in the negotiations, many issues still weren't resolved. By the end of the COP, the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action put forward this draft decision, which was adopted in the closing plenary in the wee hours of the morning on December 11. It is hoped to serve as the foundation for a necessary follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol once it expires in 2012. Section C is the first agreed text on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), but arguably does not provide sufficient language to uphold a strong mechanism that respects the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Exploring the Resilience of Law

The Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Stockholm Environmental Law and Policy Centre held a conference from November 17-19 entitled, "Law for Social-Ecological Resilience". The conference highlighted the impact of law on environmental governance, ecosystem management and sustainability policies in contexts ranging from the local to global. It also aimed to identify the potential contradictions and synergies between law, which is often conservative, and social-ecological resilience, which is inherently dynamic. Videos of the keynote speakers and presentations can be viewed here. Natural Justice is currently exploring the notion of "legal resilience"; keep an eye out for an article in early 2011.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Update on BCPs in Sabah, Malaysia

On December 8, Natural Justice held a consultation in Sepilok with the Global Diversity Foundation (GDF)-Sabah community researchers about their experiences with developing biocultural community protocols in Ulu Papar and Bundu Tuhan. We joined GDF in Sabah in February-March 2010 to begin the process in Ulu Papar and they have continued developing and refining them throughout the year through several field visits and workshops in their communities. We will continue to support them in 2011 as they finalize a first written version, work towards an online multimedia version, and begin to use it to engage with external actors.

Natural Justice also facilitated a presentation/discussion with the community researchers about their rights relating to traditional knowledge under international, national/state, and customary law, including the new international Aichi-Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing and the forthcoming Sabah Regulations on Access and Benefit Sharing. Many thanks to Adam and Agnes for translating and congratulations to the community researchers for their excellent work!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

GDF-Hutan Exchange Visit in Kinabatangan, Sabah

From December 4-7, Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) joined the Global Diversity Foundation (GDF)-Sabah team on an exchange visit with Hutan, a French NGO that specializes in wildlife conservation in the Lower Kinabatangan region in Sabah, Malaysia. Both GDF-Sabah and Hutan employ strong teams of community researchers from the communities within or around which they work. Both NGOs also make a concerted effort to build constructive relationships with various state government departments, research institutions, other NGOs, and private stakeholders.

Since 1998, Hutan has focused largely on Kinabatangan Orang utan Conservation Project in collaboration with the Sabah Wildlife Department. Through this, they have established and sustained a variety of local research, management, restoration, education, and lobbying initiatives relating to many wildlife species such as orang utan, pygmy elephants, and Proboscis monkeys. They taught the GDF community researchers several techniques that they use in their work, including tree identification, orang utan and bird nest counting and monitoring, and transect walks. They also showed some of the local enterprise development initiatives such as registered homestays and eco-tourism projects, tree nurseries, and improved shrimp fishing traps. The wildlife and communities alike are heavily threatened by the intense social and ecological pressures of the logging and oil palm plantations that surround the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, which was only gazetted in 2005.

The GDF team also discussed some of the research techniques they have used in Ulu Papar and Bundu Tuhan, including free listing, participatory video and photography, and participatory GPS and 3-D modelling. Many thanks to Datu Ahbam, Dr. Marc and the rest of the Hutan staff and community members of Sukau for their generous hospitality!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Dusun Communities Return to their Sacred Mountain!

At 4:30 am in the foothills of Mt. Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, 125 members of the Bundu Tuhan and Kiau communities set off on a pilgrimage to the sacred resting place of their ancestors for the first time in nearly 50 years. Mt. Kinabalu (known to the communities as Gayo Ngaran) is the highest mountain in southeast Asia and now a prime tourist destination. When it was gazetted as a national park in 1964, community members were no longer allowed to enter the area they had traditionally used for subsistence for centuries. Earlier this year, they successfully gained permission from Sabah Parks to have one day set aside strictly for them to return to the mountain.

Before beginning the pilgrimage at sunrise, a spiritual leader from Kiau performed a monolob, a prayer and traditional sacrifice of 7 chickens to gain permission from the spirits for the ascent of the mountain. They then departed in groups of 10, accompanied by Global Diversity Foundation community researchers who are documenting the process through participatory video. They will return to the base of the mountain for cultural events and celebrations. The pilgrimage is occurring alongside the first Kinabalu Biodiversity Expo from Dec. 2-5, which includes an ICCA forum, an ethnobotanical walk, film screenings, and a biodiversity market. For photos of the events and some of the surrounding biodiversity, see our Flickr set.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

ICCA Forum Kicks Off the 2010 Kinabalu Biodiversity Expo

On December 2nd, Natural Justice, the Global Diversity Foundation (GDF), and Sabah Parks hosted a forum on Indigenous Peoples' and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) in Kinabalu Park, Sabah, Malaysia. Participants were primarily post-grad students from the University of Malaysia-Sabah interested in issues of community-based conservation.

The forum was the first of several events comprising the Kinabalu Biodiversity Expo, which is being in held alongside the Dusun communities' return to the sacred mountain Gayo Ngaran on December 3.

Monday, November 29, 2010

New Article on Pastoralists' Use of Biocultural Community Protocols

Natural Justice's friend and colleague, Ilse Kohler-Rollefson, has written a new article entitled, "Biocultural Community Protocols: A Tool for Pastoralists to Secure Customary Rights to the Commons?" The article appears from pages 16-19 in Issue 2 of Common Voices, a journal published by the Foundation for Ecological Security in India.

Ilse (along with her colleagues  from LPPS, LPP, and the LIFE Network) has also recently produced an excellent publication entitled, "Biocultural Community Protocols for Livestock Keepers", which explores many of the opportunities and outstanding key questions about BCPs and their applications within pastoralist communities.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Art of Climate Change

Citizens of Sante Fe, New
Mexico, join together for
350 Earth to show where
a dried river should be
flowing. Credit: 350earth.org
From November 20-28, 350 EARTH is launching the world's first global climate art project. Citizens and professional artists alike are banding together in over a dozen major cities around the world to create art installations about how climate change is impacting our world and visions of how to address the crisis. Satellite company DigitalGlobal will be documenting the project from space, which is happening on the eve of the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Do you live in one of these cities? Join the history-making event happening there! Wherever you are, use your creativity to convey what climate change means to you. Here are some great ideas for your own climate art projects from the movers and shakers at 350.org.

Join a Free Webinar on Biocultural Diversity and Sacred Sites!

On November 23rd at 5 pm GMT (12:00 EDT, 09:00 PDT), Earthscan is hosting a free webinar with two of Natural Justice's friends, exploring the important relationship people have with nature and how vital it is for the future of our natural world. Luisa Maffi, co-director of Terralingua and co-author of Biocultural Diversity Conservation: A Global Sourcebook, will introduce the concept of biocultural diversity; and explain the benefits of understanding the linkages between biodiversity and culture for conservation and sustainability. Roberty Wild, co-chair of the IUCN Specialist Group on the Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas (CSVPA) and co-author of Sacred Natural Sites: Conserving Nature & Culture, will explore the benefits of utilising the connection between these natural areas and cultural values in order to protect landscapes. Register for the event (and have access to the archive afterwards) here.

Indigenous Peoples Reject Market-based Mechanisms

The International Conference on Indigenous Peoples' Rights, Alternatives and Solutions to the Climate Crisis was held from November 4-9, 2010, in Baguio City, Philippines. Participants released a declaration of solidarity (viewed here), which criticizes the "false solutions" proposed by market-based mechanisms such as REDD and demanded respect for Indigenous peoples' rights in addressing the climate crisis. It says, "The root problems of the enormous problems we face today is the system which puts profits before people and the planet... A genuinely sustainable and comprehensive solution to the climate crisis lies in a fundamental shift towards people’s sovereignty over our shared heritage."

Seventy-six Indigenous peoples representatives from 15 countries attended the conference, which was organized by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, Land is Life, IBON International, Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network, and the People's Movement on Climate Change.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Latest in TK News

Check out these fascinating links for the latest on traditional knowledge and forest management, wildlife management, and climate change. In a guest UNU-IAS article, Lucy Rist et al. (2010) explore the relationships between traditional ecological knowledge and conventional scientific data in the management of non-timber forest products, including through a case study of the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka, India.

In the September issue of the Journal of Latin American Geography, Jane M. Read et al. (2010) illustrate how Indigenous peoples' spiritual beliefs help preserve the rainforest in southern Guayana. They argue that both local environmental and spiritual/cultural contexts should be taken into account in studies that inform biodiversity and sustainable resource use management. Some of the study's co-authors described the methods they used, including training local hunters to help gather data on wildlife populations, in this November 15 article on Mongabay.com.

The world's first documentary on climate change in the Inuktitut language (with English sub-titles), by Zacharias Kunuk and Dr. Ian Mauro, conveys the social and ecological impacts of and ways of adapting to climate change in the Arctic through the eyes of Inuit elders and hunters.

Thanks to Elsa Tsioumani for the links in the latest TK Bulletin!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dusun Community Returning to their Sacred Mountain in Sabah

On December 3rd, the Dusun communities from Bundu Tuhan and Kiau (Sabah, Malaysia) will make the pilgrimage to the sacred resting place of their ancestors for the first time in nearly 50 years. Gayo Ngaran (commonly known as Mount Kinabalu) is the highest mountain in southeast Asia and a prime tourist destination. When it was gazetted as a national park in 1964, community members were no longer allowed to enter the area they had traditionally used for subsistence for centuries. Community members indicate their sense of pride that Gayo Ngaran is a natural treasure for the world to see (including as a UNESCO World Heritage Site), but they have been working to regain access in the face of the expensive and privatized tourist industry that now has control over the mountain. At a March, 2010, meeting between community leaders and Dr. Jamili Nais, Deputy Director of Sabah Parks, they asked for just one day to return to the mountain. Much to the surprise of the leaders and supporters in attendance (including the Global Diversity Foundation and Natural Justice), Dr. Nais agreed. Local teams have been busy organizing the pilgrimage, which will take place on December 3rd, and related activities on ICCAs, ethnobotany, and participatory video and photography from December 2-3.

Natural Justice congratulates the community members and community researchers of Bundu Tuhan and Kiau and the hard-working staff of the Global Diversity Foundation and Sabah Parks for making this dream a reality. It serves as a landmark event in the ongoing story of Indigenous communities in Sabah and around the world to re-establish and support the complex connections between customary ways of life, biodiversity, and sacred sites. For more on the story, see an article (originally posted in the New Sabah Times) here. Help the communities return to the mountain by making donations through this page. Learn more about sacred natural sites and the cultural and spiritual values of protected areas here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Canada (Finally) Endorses UNDRIP

On November 12, Canada endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Canada was one of only four states to vote against the adoption of UNDRIP by the UN General Assembly in 2007 (the others were the United States, New Zealand, and Australia, the latter two of which have since endorsed it). The United States is currently undergoing a review and consultation process to determine whether or not to endorse it.

Natural Justice is very pleased that Canada has joined the rest of the world in supporting UNDRIP. However, despite the Conservative Government's self-congratulatory press release, the country's performance at the recent Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, and throughout the negotiation processes leading up to it was criticized by many for being nothing short of obstructionist. For example, Indigenous peoples and supporting human rights lawyers from Canada held a press conference at COP10 to call attention to Canada's position as the sole Party to call for removal of all references to UNDRIP in the negotiations towards the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing. More views on the country's position at COP10 are published on Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources and Daily Yomiuri. Canada also received the Dodo Award, granted to Parties by the CBD Alliance for "demonstrating a definitive and unmatched failure to evolve". Indigenous peoples and civil society groups are looking forward to concrete demonstrations of Canada's newfound support for UNDRIP both in domestic and international fora.

Nestle Coverage Continues

Natural Justice features in a Pambazuka article (originally published by the Tax Justice Network) entitled, "The Battle Against Biopiracy". The article states that: "Nestec SA, a subsidiary of Nestlé, based in Switzerland, applied for five patents, using water or alcohol extraction, for conditions much the same i.e.: rooibos being the 'discovered' property, in addition to that of the honeybush, another endemic plant. Nestlé, which holds 30.5 per cent shares in L'Oréal (the world's largest cosmetic producer), and 50 per cent in Inneov (a joint venture with L’Oréal), claims that it had no intention of making commercial use of the plants in the future – though it hopes for the 20 year patent. The company further claims to have contravened no national laws (despite stipulating the need for prior informed consent) or international frameworks. Thanks to the effort of Natural Justice in South Africa, a local organisation comprised of attorneys 'for communities and the environment', the issue is now on the table." The Berne Declaration and Natural Justice have been working on this since May, 2010. Here is the original press release and briefing paper. More media coverage can be viewed here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The REDD's a-Coming (to Sabah)

From November 8-9, Harry Jonas and Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) attended an international conference in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, entitled "Forests and Climate Change: Decoding and Realising REDD+ in the Heart of Borneo, with Specific Focus on Sabah". The conference on Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries (REDD) was co-hosted by the Sabah Forestry Department and WWF-Malaysia and attended by many dignitaries such as the Chief Minister of Sabah, Datuk Seri Musa Aman. Some of the presentations given were by representatives of the UNFCCC, UNDP-Thailand, RECOFTC (The Center for People and Forests), the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), the European Union, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and PricewaterhouseCoopers. After an open discussion session, Datuk Sam Manan, Director of Sabah Forestry Department, said that Sabah will develop a REDD+ Strategy.

Civil society and Indigenous peoples' organizations have lobbied hard in climate change and biodiversity negotiations for inclusion of social and environmental safeguards in REDD programmes, particularly regarding the right to free, prior and informed consent and the right to self-determination, as well as for stricter definitions of forests (under some voluntary guidelines, industrial agricultural plantations such as oil palm are included). In general, there are serious concerns with countries and major international NGOs engaging with REDD projects in the absence of secure land tenure and local resource rights (see 2009 IIED publication by Lorenzo Cotula and James Mayers here). There are also major concerns with deepening ties between conservation organizations and environmentally destructive corporations (see Johann Hari's expose on The Nation earlier this year).

Some civil society views on REDD can be accessed through the REDD Monitor and Global Forest Coalition, among many others. Global Witness' recommendations on REDD can be viewed here. Natural Justice is exploring the development and use of biocultural community protocols in the context of REDD; see more information here.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Civil Society Views on COP10

The CBD Alliance and other members of civil society was active at the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan. They published views in the daily ECO newsletter and the 4th issue of [square brackets], for which Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) served on the editorial board. They participated in dozens of side events and the sometimes intense, sometimes impossibly drawn-out, but always critical negotiations in plenary, contact groups, and working groups. Although over 40 Decisions were eventually adopted, including a revised Strategic Plan and a financial mobilization plan (see comprehensive overview by Chee Yoke Ling here), there are mixed reactions and lingering doubts over the new Aichi Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing that was adopted (viewed here). Some were also disappointed that the civil society statements were not allowed to be read either in opening or closing plenary, allegedly due to lack of time. The text of the final statement can be viewed here. The full list of adopted Decisions is available here on the official CBD website.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Reclaiming the Commons

From October 31 to November 2, Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) attended the International Commons Conference in Berlin, Germany. The conference, which was supported by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, brought together about 180 people involved in commons-based activities.  The commons is a framework for reclaiming, sharing, and self-governing natural, cultural, and social common pool resources. Over the 3 days, participants discussed and critically analyzed the range of commons approaches that exist and established networks with the aim of collaborating in activities in the future. Natural Justice was invited to present its work on the Traditional Knowledge Commons (see publication here) and share the experiences it has learned from communities dependant on common pool resources in Africa, Asia, and South America.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Report of the Cape Town Meeting on BCPs

In early September, Natural Justice co-ordinated a two-day meeting on bio-cultural community protocols (BCPs), which brought together a range of representatives of African Indigenous peoples, local communities, and community-based organizations (CBOs). The aim of the meeting was three-fold: first, to review existing rights-based approaches (RBAs) to biological resources and traditional knowledge; second, to evaluate the potential of bio-cultural community protocols to improve existing RBAs in their efforts to secure, for example, free, prior and informed consent with respect to any activities undertaken that affect communities’ tangible and intangible resources; and third, to discuss the viability and utility of establishing an African collective of Indigenous peoples, local communities, and CBO networks that will coordinate activities, share experiences, create linkages, and develop capacity on the use of community protocols at the community, national, and regional level. View the report of the meeting here. See blog postings from the meeting here (Sept. 2) and here (Sept 3).

Monday, November 1, 2010

ICCA Workshop in UNESCO World Heritage Site

Shirakawa Village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From October 27-30, Harry Jonas and Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) were at the Shirakawa-go Eco Institute in Japan for a workshop on Indigenous Conserved Territories and Areas Conserved by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (ICCAs). The workshop was sponsored by the ICCA Consortium, GEF SGP, UNEP-WCMC, The Christensen Fund, Kalpavriksh, Cenesta, World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples, IUCN CEESP, IUCN-Japan, and TILCEPA. Participants were from a wide range of countries and included members of Indigenous peoples and local and mobile communities, community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations and networks, government, and funders.

On the first day, there was an overview of the history of ICCAs and their emergence among Indigenous peoples, local communities, and the international conservation community, of the various forms of national recognition of and support for ICCAs, and of the threats, opportunities, and lessons learned so far. A roundtable on global recognition efforts for ICCAs included speed presentations on legal issues and opportunities, national government perspectives, sacred natural sites, REDD, ABS, and the ICCA Registry. A roundtable on practical tools explored participatory mapping and 3-D modelling, community monitoring, biocultural community protocols, and the protected areas governance toolkit developed by TILCEPA members.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Introducing the Aichi Nagoya Protocol on ABS

The plenary of COP10.
After 6 years of intensive and politically fraught negotiations, the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP10) finally adopted the Aichi Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing at 2:00 AM on the morning of October 30th, 2010. The last couple of hours before its adoption were extremely tense with the European Union insisting that the Protocol be adopted as a package deal with the resolution on the Strategic Plan and the Financial Mechanism. On the other side were Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Uruguay expressing grave reservations about the Protocol as another attempt by developed countries to legitimize biopiracy and commodify Nature. These countries also insisted that the Protocol not be adopted as a package deal but rather that the Protocol be adopted first and then the Strategic Plan and the Financial Mechanism.

Friday, October 29, 2010

U.S. Says Genes Should Not Be Eligible For Patents

Reversing a longstanding policy, the U.S. federal government has said that human and other genes should not be eligible for patents because they are part of nature. The new position could have a huge impact on medicine and on the biotechnology industry. The new position was declared in a friend of the court brief filed by the Department of Justice late Friday in a case involving two human genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer and published in the New York Times on October 29. “We acknowledge that this conclusion is contrary to the longstanding practice of the Patent and Trademark Office, as well as the practice of the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies that have in the past sought and obtained patents for isolated genomic DNA,” the brief said. For more on the issue, see the article here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Demystifying Community Protocols

In the evening of October 26, Natural Justice hosted a side event on biocultural community protocols and the links with endogenous development and wellbeing. Other hosting organizations included COMPAS, UNU-IAS, UNEP, and UNDP. Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) provided an overview of the different approaches in reference to community-level pressures and the rights to self-determination and to provide free, prior and informed consent.

Alejandro Argumedo (Asociacion ANDES, Peru) spoke about Indigenous territories as complex, adaptive biocultural systems that serve as an alternative to the current neo-liberal capitalist and conservation paradigms. He described the Potato Park inter-community benefit-sharing agreement, which is based on customary Quechua principles of reciprocity, equilibrium, and duality, as an articulation of how Indigenous peoples conserve and sustainably use biodiversity, protection against biopiracy, securing of rights to traditional knowledge and natural resources, and a process of community empowerment, maintenance of culture and introduction, and collective thinking about new issues emerging from legal frameworks.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Indigenous Knowledge Systems & Health

Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) attended the AIDS Foundation of South Africa's (AFSA) biennial Learning and Sharing Conference in Durban, South Africa, on Tuesday, October 26th. One of the goals of the 3-day conference, which was attended by approximately 200 representatives of Indigenous peoples, community-based organizations, and non-governmental organizations, was to share experiences and information on the role that cultural beliefs, practices and Indigenous knowledge play in shaping community and individual perceptions of health and illness.

Gino was invited to speak to participants about Indigenous knowledge systems and the role that they have played and continue to play in achieving well-being and health of communities. In his presentation, Gino also discussed the traditional healers of Bushbuckridge (South Africa), who have used their bio-cultural community protocol to address their shared concerns and engage with stakeholders, including the Government of South Africa, with the aim of working towards the well-being of their community. Other speakers at the conference discussed how cultural benefits and practices can impact health-seeking behaviour and how gender relations impact health promotion and the risk of HIV. The conference will continue over the next 2 days.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sacred Natural Sites


Felipe Gomez of the Maja people of Guatemala.
On October 26, Bas Verschuuren moderated a side event hosted by the COMPAS Network for Endogenous Development and the IUCN Specialist Group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas (CSVPA). Jeffrey McNeely (Senior Science Advisor, IUCN) launched the new book entitled “Sacred Natural Sites: Conserving Nature and Culture”, which was co-edited by Verschuuren, Robert Wild, McNeely, and Gonzalo Oviedo (available here from Earthscan). Oviedo (Senior Social Policy Advisor, IUCN) spoke about the linkages of sacred sites recognition and support within the IUCN community, including through the CSVPA and various publications such as the Sacred Natural Sites Guidelines for Protected Area Managers. Nigel Crawhall (IPACC and IUCN-TILCEPA) shared two stories of Indigenous peoples’ interpretations of sacred sites in South Africa and India. Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) described how biocultural community protocols can enable communities to assert their rights to access and serve as custodians over sacred sites. Colleen Corrigan (UNEP-WCMC) shared information about the ICCA Registry as a tool that can be used to increase awareness and support for sacred sites.

The First Dodo Award Goes To...

Doris the Dodo presents the Dodo Award to a member of
civil society from the EU. Holly Shrumm accepted the Dodo
Award granted to Canada for their role in stalling CBD
and ABS negotiations at COP 10.
Alongside other members of the CBD Alliance at the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) chaired a press conference on October 25 to present the first Dodo Award to Canada and the European Union "for demonstrating a definitive and unmatched failure to evolve". Named after the dodo bird, the quintessential symbol of biodiversity loss, the CBD Alliance presented the award to these two Parties for obstructing and delaying processes "that aim to serve the greater good, for failing to evolve, and for simply behaving badly". Canada and the EU have been particularly obstructive in negotiations towards an international protocol on access and benefit sharing (ABS), with Canada being the only Party insisting upon the removal of any reference to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (see posting from a related press conference here). Runners-up for the Dodo Award were China (for weakening the CBD Strategic Plan) and Brazil (for recklessly promoting biofuels). The CBD Alliance also recognized Parties that are playing a positive role in the negotiations, particularly Norway (on geo-engineering), Bolivia (on financial resources), and the Philippines (for their constant attention to biofuels, synthetic biology, financial resources and agricultural biodiversity).

Joint Programme of Work on Biological & Cultural Diversity

Left to right: Viviana Figueroa, Gonzalo Oviedo, Barbara
Lassen, and John Scott.
On October 25, Natural Justice attended a side event on the joint programme of work on biological and cultural diversity between the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Speakers at the side event included Ana Persic (UNESCO), Viviana Figueroa (CBD), Luis Delgado Hurtado (Yachay Wasi, Peru), Gonzalo Oviedo (IUCN), Barbara Lassen (GTZ), and John Scott (CBD). The joint programme of work was forwarded in a draft decision of the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the CBD and is currently unbracketed in the negotiations. It was based on a conference held in Montreal in June, 2010, by the CBD and UNESCO, which Natural Justice attended. Our blog postings on the conference can be read here (introduction) and here (summary). The conference report  can be accessed here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

ICCA Consortium General Assembly

Ashish Kothari grouping participants' strategic visions.
The Indigenous Peoples' and Community Conserved Areas (ICCA) Consortium held its first official General Assembly and a strategy meeting on October 24 in Nagoya. During the first half of the meeting, Grazia Borrini-Feyerabend (Consortium coordinator) and Ashish Kothari (Kalpavriksh) presented an overview of how the concept of ICCAs has evolved over time in policy and practice, what is the current situation, and what are the main challenges and opportunities. Maurizio Farhan Ferrari (Forest Peoples Programme) illustrated the key provisions for ICCAs in the draft Decisions currently being considered by the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 10).

During the General Assembly, Taghi Farvar (CENESTA, Consortium president), Grazia Borrini-Feyerabend (coordinator), and Stan Stevens (treasurer) presented their respective reports. Participants discussed concerns and suggestions with the statues that had been provisionally adopted when the Consortium was registered as a non-profit association in Switzerland in July. A small team of Consortium members volunteered to propose concrete changes to the Statues to circulate over email to the other members. The whole group then deliberated long-term visions and strategic priorities for the next few years, particularly in light of collaboration with the CBD, UNEP-WCMC, IUCN-WCPA, GEF-SGP, and GTZ. Among other things, Natural Justice is exploring our role in progressing the global ICCA legal review and supporting the future development of guidelines for legal recognition of ICCAs.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Land Day at the Rio Conventions Ecosystem Pavilion

Dr. Kakar (far left) spoke about the concerns of pastoralists
in Pakistan.
Kabir Bavikatte represented Natural Justice at the Land Day 3 at the Rio Conventions Ecosystem Pavilion in Nagoya. The event was organized by GTZ along with the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The objective of Land Day was to communicate issues relating to the UNCCD and to link the relevance of sustainable land management in drylands to the aims of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Participants of the land day included the negotiators and participants of the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the CBD. The event discussed how conserving biodiversity in drylands is of particular relevance to poverty reduction and food security and emphasized that if land degradation and species loss in drylands areas are to be arrested, indigenous and local communities must become more involved in decision-making processes.

Raising Awareness about the ABS Protocol

Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice) participated in a press conference organized by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity on October 23. The purpose of the press conference was to inform the international media about the concept of access and benefit sharing (ABS) and the importance of the international Protocol on ABS, which is currently in its final stages of negotiation. Kabir spoke to journalists about the lessons from the San Hoodia case, particularly on the importance of 'user country' compliance measures. He explained that it is only through an international Protocol on ABS that user countries can be compelled to put in place strong compliance measures. These compliance measures would ensure that users of genetic resources and traditional knowledge within user country jurisdictions seek prior informed consent from provider countries and Indigenous peoples and local communities for the use of their genetic resources and traditional knowledge. In the San Hoodia case, such user country measures would prevent continued violation of the rights of the San over their traditional knowledge by various companies that are marketing Hoodia products without getting the prior and informed consent of the San community.

Friday, October 22, 2010

PoWPA Implementation Support Consortium

Grazia Borrini-Feyerabend (IUCN-CEESP) called for support
for Indigenous peoples' and community conserved areas
and learning networks in social-ecological regions.
In the evening of October 22, Natural Justice joined colleagues from civil society and IUCN’s Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP) at the third informal meeting of the Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA) Implementation Support Consortium. Among others in attendance were Sarat Babu Gidda (Convention on Biological Diversity Secretariat), Trevor Sandwith (Head of IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme), Nik Lopoukhine (chair of IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas, WCPA), Delfin Ganapin (Gobal Manager, GEF Small Grants Programme), Eduard Müller (vice-chair of IUCN-WCPA Mexico, Central America and Hispanic Caribbean), and Rodrigo Fuentes (Executive Director, ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity). The meeting reviewed activities and lessons learned from 2006-2010 and discussed suggested approaches and activities for 2011-2012. Many participants noted several needs and suggestions, including: focusing more on qualitative and social-cultural assessments; revising the reporting format, including through considering independent reporters and thematic reporting; ensuring representation of Indigenous peoples and local communities at all levels, including as national focal points; utilizing the support and expertise of networks such as the ICCA Consortium and IUCN-TILCEPA; linking formal (State) and non-State initiatives; focusing on sustained capacity-building initiatives at the local level, including with government and community partners and through existing, in-country training institutions; enhancing the management effectiveness of existing protected areas rather than focusing strictly on establishing new ones; and supporting the development of learning networks in social-ecological regions.

Conservation Initiative on Human Rights

Governance and rights security have significant implications for biodiversity conservation effectiveness and for the livelihoods of people relying on resources within and outside of protected areas. These linkages are recognized in numerous Articles, Programmes of Work, and Guidelines of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Natural Justice attended a side event at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the CBD that explored the potential for the Conservation Initiative on Human Rights to provide concrete guidance to agencies when engaging in activities that have an impact on communities. Speakers included Gonzalo Oviedo (Senior Advisor, Social Policy, IUCN), Kristen Walker Painemilla (Vice President, Indigenous and Traditional Peoples Program, Conservation International), Vital Bambanze (President, Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee), Fernando Castro (CONAP, Guatemala), Yolanda Terán (Red de Mujeres), and Kristen Hite (Center for International Environmental Law), with Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) providing a commentary at the end.

Civil Society Statement in Plenary

Ramya Rajagopalan (left, ICSF) and Teppei Dohke (Japan
Civil Society Network) read the NGO statement in plenary.
Holly Shrumm and Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) were involved in the drafting group of the NGO statment that was given in plenary on Friday afternoon. Excerpts include: "The CBD is about Social and Environmental Justice. Without a radical new approach in the second week, this COP will fail to achieve its aims. It will be Biodiversity's Copenhagen. Similar to Copenhagen, we feel the main reason this COP is heading for failure is that Northern governments refuse to take on legally binding commitments in line with the third objective of the Convention, (ABS), and to comply with their financial commitment. We call on governments to adopt a legally binding ABS Protocol that has strong enforcement and compliance measures, that stops biopiracy, respects and protects the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities as enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples... Dear delegates, each of you has the moral and legal duty to implement the CBD, by ensuring rights to dignity and well-being, of present and future generations... Mother Earth is not for Sale. No to the greed economy. Yes to equity, justice and biodiversity."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Defining Science-based Targets Beyond 2010

Anantha Kumar Duraiappah (IHDP) spoke about the need
to ensure 2020 targets are interdependent and based on a
coupled social-ecological systems approach.
In the evening of October 21, Natural Justice attended a side event hosted by DIVERSITAS and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) entitled “Beyond 2010: Defining Science-based Targets for Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services, and Human Wellbeing”. Speakers noted the many issues to address within the setting of biodiversity targets, including functional diversity, temporal and spatial scale, interdependence of multiple ecosystem services, and uncertainty. Recommendations included establishing priorities among the targets, using a systems approach to developing new targets, considering coherence between targets and other Multilateral Environmental Agreements and the Millennium Development Goals, and working with the future Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Canada Undermines Indigenous Peoples' Rights and Obstructs ABS Protocol

Ellen Gabriel (left) and Larry McDermott (right).
On October 21, Natural Justice attended a press conference held by the Native American and First Nations members of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB). Armand Mackenzie (lawyer, Innu Nation), Ellen Gabriel (president, Quebec Native Women’s Association), Larry McDermott (Algonquin councillor, Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation), and Paul Joffe (human rights lawyer) discussed the current obstructive position of the Canadian government in the negotiations towards an international protocol on access and benefit sharing (ABS). They argued that Canada’s call to remove all references to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) undermines fundamental human rights and jeopardizes the entire negotiation process under the Convention on Biological Diversity. This position contradicts the Canadian Prime Minister’s 2010 Speech from the Throne and 2008 federal apology for residential schools, impedes international relations and progress to protect human rights and the environment, tarnishes Canada’s reputation globally, and casts doubt on Canada’s alleged intention to explore adopting UNDRIP. Four key elements of concern with the ABS protocol, which the speakers argued present huge challenges for Indigenous peoples, include: excessive interest in strengthening state sovereignty; no indication of intent to truly collaborate or consult with Indigenous peoples; generally, states are not willing to recognize that Indigenous peoples have rights to genetic resources; and the consensus rule backfires when it’s at the expense of the aims of the Protocol itself and of internationally recognized human rights.

Social Aspects of Marine Protected Areas

Antonio Garcia Allut (far right) calls for marine protected
areas that integrally involve local communities.
In the afternoon of October 21, Natural Justice attended a side event entitled “Getting it Right: Incorporating social aspects into marine protected area planning and implementation”, which was hosted by the World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP) and the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF). Chandrika Sharma (ICSF) explained how the livelihoods of fishing communities depend on healthy ecosystems and how small-scale fishing communities have been struggling and campaigning for decades to reconcile the conservation and management frameworks to more effectively manage coastal and marine habitats and resources and protect against destructive developments and fishing practices. Jorge Varela shared experiences from Honduras, stressing that despite local communities successfully mobilizing to designate the Gulf of Fonseca as a Ramsar Site in 1999, wetlands are increasing degraded by industrial expansion of shrimp farms, which undermines food sovereignty and accelerates biodiversity loss and poverty. Antonio Garcia Allut (Fundaçion Lonxanet para la Pesca Sostenible, Spain) discussed the significant decline of fish resources and artisanal fisheries in Galicia due to centralized management and destructive industrial fishing practices. Lonxanet was involved in the gazetting of Ox Miñarzos, the first marine protected area that involved local fishing communities from the beginning.

Common Pool Resources and ABS

Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice) presented on common pools of traditional knowledge at a side event on October 21 that was organized by the University of Bremen. The side event discussed the challenge of distributive justice in bilateral access and benefit sharing (ABS) exchanges between providers and users under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), especially when knowledge and genetic resources are collectively held. Speakers emphasized on a reading of the CBD as enabling voluntary multilateral solutions that could include common pools of genetic material and traditional knowledge. Overall, the side event presented on preliminary empirical and legal analysis of the typology of common pools and sought to explain the emergence of common pools. Presentations also highlighted the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) as a best practice multilateral common pool practice that needs to be replicated.

Perspectives on Community Protocols

Natural Justice facilitated a meeting of partners to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of current uses of biocultural community protocols at the COP in Nagoya. Thirteen participants, including representatives of the LIFE Network, Anthra, UNU-IAS, COMPAS Network, and Natural Justice, met to discuss and share experiences on biocultural community protocols. Participants stressed a number of points, including: ensuring intra-community participation and inter-community communication; using a range of community-level methodologies; ensuring that the process is conducted by community members and at a pace set by themselves; local NGOs can provide useful assistance; best-practice guidance and resources would be useful; community-to-community experience sharing is important; and community protocols should be reviewed over time and considered continuous processes. Natural Justice thanks all the participants and Suneetha Subramanian (UNU) for the use of UNU's tent.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Questioning REDD

Natural Justice hosted a side event entitled “REDD: Whose Rights, Who's Wronged” on October 20 to explore the deeper issues inherent in the debate about whether climate finance is reconcilable with biocultural conservation. Camila Moreno (Friends of the Earth-Brazil), Simone Lovera (Global Forest Coalition), Alejandro Argumedo (Asociación ANDES), Tom Goldtooth (Indigenous Environmental Network), and Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) presented at the event. Speakers questioned whether the Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) was an inevitability and criticized the exclusion of Indigenous peoples and local communities from being fully and effectively evolved in the debate about its international development and national implementation. They raised the tragic irony evident in lack of commitment by Annex I (developed) countries to commit to legally binding emission reductions, whist at the same time promoting REDD as a means to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Moreno warned against being convinced by the “the dictatorship of the alternative”, meaning that REDD is being presented as being the best of a number of bad options, when real and tangible alternatives exist. The side event ended with Jonas suggesting that participants “keep asking questions”.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

IUCN Implementation of PoWPA

Nigel Crawhall (right), chair of IUCN-TILCEPA.
On October 19, Natural Justice attended a side event on implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity's Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA), hosted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA). The facilitators were Trevor Sandwith (head of IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme) and Nik Lopoukhine (chair of IUCN-WCPA). Nigel Crawhall (chair of IUCN-TILCEPA) called for more recognition and support for Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) and sacred natural sites. Jennifer Koinante Yiaku Ntorobo (vice-president of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee) noted the need to better represent and support traditional knowledge and customary laws in protected areas.

Biopiracy and Lessons for ABS Protocol

Kabir Bavikatte (Credit: IISD/Earth
Negotiations Bulletin)
On October 19, Natural Justice, the Berne Declaration, EED, Third World Network, and the African Centre for Biosafety organized a side event entitled "Ongoing Biopiracy and Lessons for an ABS Protocol". The side event focused on examples of biopiracy and lessons for developing the Protocol on access and benefit sharing (ABS). Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice) presented on the Nestle Rooibos biopiracy case, focusing on the background of the case, the work of the Berne Declaration and Natural Justice in challenging the biopiracy, limitations of South African law, and the lessons for the prospective protocol on ABS.

Intellectual Property, Trade, and Biodiversity Conservation

Olivier Rukundo (far right), Natural Justice associate.
Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice) presented at a lunch-time side event organized by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) in cooperation with GTZ on Tuesday, October 19 at the the CBD COP10 in Nagoya. The side event was titled "Intellectual Property, Trade and Biodiversity Conservation: A South-South Exchange".

The side event sought to build on lessons learnt from African and Latin American initiatives on access and benefit sharing (ABS), intellectual property rights (IPRs), biodiversity, and sustainable use. The side event had different regional experts who highlighted domestic and regional experiences with implementing ABS legislation. Kabir spoke on the South African ABS legislation and challenges with its implementation, using the example of the recent Nestle Rooibos biopiracy challenge in which Natural Justice was involved. The side event was well-attended and was also an opportunity to present the recent publication by Natural Justice and the ABS Initiative for Africa on "Implementing a Traditional Knowledge Commons". The side event also launched a new GTZ publication on "Triggering Synergies between IPRs and Biodiversity", for which Natural Justice had also written a chapter. The Intellectual Property Watch also produced an article about the issues discussed in the side event, which can be read here.

Civil Society Protests Market-based Conservation

On October 19, representatives of civil society organizations and the CBD Alliance (including Natural Justice) peacefully protested market-based conservation as delegates entered the venue of the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Their messages of "Mother Earth is not for sale", "No to the greed economy", and "Yes to rights, equity, and justice" were well-received by delegates, many of whom stopped to offer support and take photos with the signs. More photos can be viewed here. The CBD Alliance will continue to organize actions and interventions throughout COP 10.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"For the Next 7 Generations"

Three of the Indigenous Grandmothers answered questions
from the audience after the screening.
On October 18, Natural Justice attended a screening of the film “For the Next 7 Generations”. The film illustrates the story, journey, and values of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, who joined together in 2004 to call for world peace and a reanimated consciousness of our relationship with Mother Earth. The Grandmothers’ mission statement is: “We, the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, represent a global alliance of prayer, education and healing for our Mother Earth, all her inhabitants, all the children, and for the next seven generations to come. We are deeply concerned with the unprecedented destruction of our Mother Earth and the destruction of indigenous ways of life. We believe the teachings of our ancestors will light the way through an uncertain future. We look to further our vision through the realization of projects that protect our diverse cultures: lands, medicines, language and ceremonial ways of prayer and through projects that educate and nurture our children.”

Three of the Grandmothers joined the audience after the screening to take a few questions. Noting that the combined age of the 13 Grandmothers is nearly 900 years, they spoke about the spiritual relationship that Indigenous women in particular have with Earth-based medicines. They described the four elements (Mother Earth, air, fire, and water) are the foundation of all life, underscoring the fact that humans are such a small part of the world and are defined by our relations with others. As Lakota Chief Sitting Bull said, “Let’s put our minds together and see what life we will make for our children.”

Community Experiences with Sustainable Use of Biodiversity and Implementing Article 10(c)

Viviana Figueroa (left) and Joji Carino.
On October 18 at the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Natural Justice attended a side event co-hosted by the Forest Peoples Programme and Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity on community experiences with Article 10(c) of the CBD. The event began with a short film on customary uses of forest resources and difficulties with the Forestry Department in the Sundarbans, Bangladesh. Viviana Figueroa (SCBD) noted that there are huge gaps in the implementation of Article 10(c) and that Parties must recognize the relationship between customary law and natural resource management and the centrality of 10(c) to communities’ livelihoods. Joji Carino (Tebtebba and IIFB) explained that at COP 10, “sustainable use” will be dealt with by Working Group I under Agenda point 6.7 on October 19. The Decision under review at COP 10 regards the inclusion of “a new major component on Article 10 with a focus on Article 10(c) on sustainable use and customary sustainable use of biodiversity”. Carino also noted that the Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions (WG8j) is expected to develop guidelines and a strategy for implementation of Article 10(c) at the national level and that there is a call for an international meeting on Article 10(c) to propose elements for a strategy for its implementation.

Top 10 for COP 10

A number of representatives of NGOs presented the Top 10 for COP 10 at a side event on October 18 organized by the CBD Alliance. Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) presented on Article 8(j) and Access and Benefit Sharing, Simone Lovera (Global Forest Coalition) presented on Biodiversity and Climate Change, Friedrich Wulf (Friends of the Earth - Switzerland) spoke about the Future of the CBD, Helena Paul (EcoNexus) discussed Finance, Sustainable Use and Agriculture, and Jackie Sunde (International Collective in Support of Fishworkers) spoke about Protected Areas. The webcast can be seen here.

Strategizing with Civil Society for COP 10

Drafting the civil society statement
for opening plenary.
From October 16-17, Natural Justice has been working with other members of civil society in Nagoya, Japan, to strategize for the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The CBD Alliance coordinated the two-day planning and strategy meeting along with the Japanese Civil Society Network. The meeting focused on exploring the Top 10 Issues for COP 10 (a series of briefing papers prepared by the CBD Alliance), discussing key items on the agenda with the CBD Secretariat, and drafting the civil society statement for the opening plenary on October 18.

Among many of the complex issues discussed, one of the overarching key points that emerged from the 2-day meeting is that COP 10 is a critical moment to turn the tide of the CBD towards a focus on biodiversity, equity, and sustainability, and away from current trends of market-based mechanisms and the commodification of nature. There is a palpable need for the Parties and Observers to the CBD to re-take ownership over biodiversity as the core issue to survival and sustainability, rather than allowing biodiversity and livelihoods to be undermined by other international mechanisms, Conventions, and UN agencies.

The Top 10 for COP 10 briefing papers can be read here. Live and recorded webcasts of COP 10 proceedings can be viewed here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

High Expectations for Adoption of ABS Protocol in Nagoya

The logo of COP10, depicting people, plants, and
animals as origami.
The Working Group on ABS (WGABS) resumed the last round of its 9th meeting through the Inter-Regional Negotiating Group (ING) from October 13-15 in Nagoya, Japan. The WGABS was tasked by the Conference of Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to complete negotiating a Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) by the 10th meeting of the CBD COP, which takes place from October 18-29 in Nagoya. Continuing with its intense negotiations from Montreal in September (see closing blog posting here), the WGABS made a considerable amount of headway towards the Protocol on ABS. While there has not been full agreement, significant progress was made on contentious issues such as the definition of "utilization of genetic resources" and provisions relating to compliance with the ABS Protocol. However, despite the progress made, the WGABS was unable to complete its negotiations prior to the 10th CBD COP. On October 16, the WGABS met for the last time to close its 9th session and to report to the 10th meeting of the CBD COP the status of the negotiations and forward the draft text of the Protocol on ABS negotiated thus far. It is anticipated that the COP will set up a contact group made up of Parties who have been negotiating within the WGABS to continue its negotiations of the ABS Protocol through the next two weeks of the 10th CBD COP.

There are high expectations that the 10th CBD COP will adopt a Protocol on ABS before the end of October since all Parties to the CBD are committed to achieving this outcome. Kabir Bavikatte of Natural Justice participated in the ING as the legal advisor to the African Group of countries and will participate in further negotiations towards the Protocol on ABS.